The devil’s trailer Part 4

Arrest 

Even after the brutal slaying and dismemberment of Monica Lemen, it seemed John Fryman had not had enough of doing the devil’s business.  On February 11, 1987, only a few days after killing Lemen, Fryman and his accomplice, Beverly Cox, shot a gas station attendant during a stick-up of the Clark Oil Co., 3660 Dixie Highway, Fairfield.  Although the victim, Tammy Sue Rose of Fairfield, would survive the shooting, she would have no recollection of the attack and require months of physical therapy to recover.  John Fryman was on quite a roll.  The young man who had studied sociology and psychology while in prison, and was only three credits short of graduating college, had fully committed himself to a path of blood and mayhem.  “He was a person that does not stand out in any way.  A very quiet person,” said a spokesperson for the college he attended.  It now seemed the unassuming young man was making an effort to stand out.  The big question is why now and why choose such a grisly course of action? 

It would be some time before investigators would connect the gas station robbery with the severed legs discovery.  In the meantime, detectives learned that Fryman was issuing threats through intermediaries to his former associates.  According to Middletown Police Chief Russell Dwyer, John Fryman, Monica Lemen and two unidentified men had paid a visit to a Middletown, Ohio couple the previous month.  While the nature of that visit was not revealed, the couple did say that, after the discovery of the severed legs, they were threatened by one of the two unidentified men.  “The couple said the man told them he had been in contact with John Fryman and he indicated they should be afraid of him.  The man told them in the same conversation that Fryman had talked of the occult and black magic,” said Chief Dwyer.  

It isn’t difficult to imagine that an interest in the occult and demonology could have been what bound this group together.  Family members and friends of both Fryman and Lemen agreed that the two shared an interest in the occult.  That knowledge coupled with the revelation that Fryman circulated black magic threats to group members, could lead one to conclude that this was a group dabbling in dark occult practices. Did Fryman enjoy some kind of power or status within the group?  Did the quiet young man who went almost entirely unnoticed in the everyday world feel emboldened by the dark forces inhabiting his spiritual one? 

On Thursday, February 19, John Lee Fryman and Beverly V. Cox were arrested at around 4 p.m. along U.S. 40 outside of Richmond, Indiana.  Fryman was wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Monica Lemen, and Cox was carrying a .22 revolver in her purse for which she had no license.  The gun would later be identified as a match to the weapon used to shoot Tammy Sue Rose.  The pair were picked up by an Indiana Conservation Officer and a Wayne County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Deputy, who had been told to be on the lookout for Fryman’s 1980 Ford Pinto station wagon.  

Fryman and Cox were taken into custody and questioned by authorities in Indiana.  The morning after their arrest, Indiana State Police Detective Reginald Brewer testified in Wayne County Superior Court that the pair had admitted killing Monica Lemen during interviews with state police Thursday evening.  A source familiar with the hearing, none other than presiding Judge Harry H. Holtsclaw, told The Indianapolis Star, “They (Indiana State Police detectives) intimated they had confessions, and the car was used for transportation of the body parts.”  The judge granted the ISP request to search the Pinto, and Fryman was held on a charge of aggravated murder while Cox was charged with complicity to aggravated murder.  According to “an informed source,” Monica Lemen “was shot in the head at the mobile home in Fairfield.”  No word on whether the informed source was the honorable Judge Holtsclaw.  With that, the devil worshiping duo promptly waived extradition from Indiana and were transferred to the Butler County Jail in Hamilton, Ohio.  

Naturally, of pressing concern to investigators in Ohio was the location of the rest of the remains of Monica Lemen.  Based on information provided by the suspects, authorities undertook a massive search of a Colerain Township, Ohio landfill.  According to Fairfield Police Chief John Rednour, the legs were severed “as a matter of logistics.”  The corpse was too large to fit in John Fryman’s Ford Pinto station wagon, so the legs were removed and the torso deposited in a dumpster owned by Rumpke Waste Inc.  The dumpster had since been emptied, but authorities were able to determine that the refuse had been deposited in the landfill near Cincinnati.  With the aid of landfill employees, police were able to locate the area of the landfill where the dumpster’s contents had been deposited.  For days, police and refuse workers sifted through trash in search of the body.  Backhoes scooped up yards of waste to be spread out and examined.  Searchers periodically checked the dates on discarded newspapers to make sure they were searching through refuse that corresponded to the date the dumpster was emptied.  After three days of searching “daylight to dusk,” frustrated investigators halted their efforts.  “It was just too massive,” said Fairfield City Manager Robert Gerhardt, who added that all involved felt bad that they couldn’t locate Lemen’s remains for the sake of the family.

On Tuesday, February 24, Fryman and Cox were arraigned in Fairfield Municipal Court with Judge James E. Walsh presiding.  Fryman was charged with aggravated murder and Cox with complicity to aggravated murder.  In a document filed with the court, police said Fryman admitted killing Monica Lemen and Cox admitted helping him.  The judge ordered a preliminary hearing for the following Friday to determine whether the case would be bound over to a Butler County grand jury.  Investigators confirmed their belief that Monica Lemen died of a gunshot wound to the head, reiterating their contention that she was not killed as part of a satanic ritual.  

On Friday, February 27, Beverly Cox testified for three hours in front of a special session of the Butler County grand jury.  In exchange for that testimony, and contingent upon her testifying at Fryman’s trial, Cox was granted “transactional immunity,” according to her attorney Ronald Craft.  “What that means is that she will not be prosecuted on the offense of complicity to aggravated murder,” Craft said.  The following Monday an indictment was filed in the Butler County Common Pleas Court charging John Fryman with aggravated murder and gross abuse of a corpse.  The murder charge included specifications of kidnapping and use of a firearm, opening the door for a potential death penalty sentence should he face conviction.  The indictment charged that Fryman “with prior calculation and design” killed Lemen and “did treat the human corpse of Monica Lemen in a way that would outrage reasonable community sensibilities.”  

Prosecutor John Holcomb seemed satisfied with Beverly Cox’s cooperation, and in remarks to reporters stated she had no involvement in the actual murder.  “Her testimony against the defendant was vital.  Our study of the evidence showed that Beverly Cox was present when the events occurred, but wasn’t a party to it in that she was hiding in the closet.”  Nevertheless, Cox remained held in the Butler County jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond to ensure her testimony in the upcoming trial.  “What she was probably more guilty of than anything would be an obstruction of justice type charge,” Holcomb continued.  “We thought it was in the interest of justice to have her tell her story of what really happened.  It will all come out at the trial.”  Fishing for shocking details, reporters asked if allegations of devil worship had been discussed during Cox’s testimony.  Holding his satan cards close to his chest, the sly prosecutor simply smiled and said, “Does a bear live in the woods?”

Perhaps sensing he was being sold down the river Styx, a desperate John Fryman attempted to clear the air regarding the allegations that were piling up against him.  In a telephone interview with the Cincinnati Post, Fryman claimed Indiana police had coerced a confession out of him.  Describing the interrogation following his capture, Fryman said he “refused to talk to them until they jumped in my face and decided they wanted to bruise me up slightly.  Then I just kind of nodded my head to everything they said.”  Fryman also maintained that “extenuating circumstances” led to the death of Monica Lemen, and that the full story was not being told.  “There’s a lot of things that haven’t been said.  There’s a lot of things involved that nobody seems to be following up on.”  What those “things” were, Fryman didn’t elaborate.  However, Fryman did address the allegations of satanism.  “All the satanism thing they blew all up, all the evidence they supposedly have – they don’t have anything.”  

While maintaining that charges of satanism had been blown out of proportion, Fryman freely admitted to more than just a passing interest in the occult.  “I am involved with the occult.  I think everybody knows that.  You don’t have a room like that in your trailer if you’re not.  But I wasn’t involved in it to the extent they’re saying.”  Fryman also implicated Monica Lemen as a fellow occult practitioner, saying she had recently brought over friends interested in deviant forms of the occult and satanism.  Regardless of the extent of his occult dabblings, Fryman’s protestations accomplished little in shifting the blame away from himself.  Commenting on Fryman’s charges of police coercion and abuse, Fairfield Police Chief Gary Rednour referred to the allegations as a “bunch of baloney.”  

Sources:

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton Daily News

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana)

The Brookville Democrat

Franklin County Historical Society

The devil’s trailer Part 3

Sorcery room

Interviews with Monica Lemen’s family and friends led investigators to a mobile home in Fairfield, Ohio.  Based on these interviews, detectives put a search warrant together and served the warrant on Wednesday, February 18 at a residence located in the Debbie Mobile Home Park, 124 Sammy Drive.  The trailer belonged to John Fryman, 24, who, according to Lemen’s friends, had been seen in the company of the young woman.  It was reported by those who knew the pair that the two shared an interest in the occult.  Police serving the warrant were taken aback at the scene they discovered.  “In one of the bedrooms, the walls, the ceilings, the floor, everything is painted black,” Fairfield Police Detective Eddie Roberts told reporters.  “He’s got a table made like a podium and on top of the podium is a granite headstone.  There are all kinds of black candles.  There’s a name on the headstone and it’s a legitimate headstone.”  Roberts also noted that satanic literature was found in the trailer.  Investigators discovered red stains that had been smeared on the floor of the room, a room they described as a satanic worship area.  Detectives speculated the stains could be blood and that an effort had been made to clean up the area.  Hoping to determine whether a crime had been committed at the location, evidence gathered at the scene was sent to the Hamilton County Forensics Lab for testing.  Other items seized during the search included a ceramic goat’s head, nine figurines, a book of magic and an animal’s jawbone.  Police searched for a circular power saw but were unable to find one.  They did, however, retrieve a butcher knife, a handsaw and a hacksaw.  

Investigators were adamant in their belief that Monica Lemen was not killed as part of a satanic ritual.  But there can be no doubt that occult involvement on the part of both Lemen and Fryman is what led friends and family members to suspect Fryman, and formed much of the basis for the search of his trailer.  According to the search warrant application, a friend of Lemen’s said Lemen told her Fryman had threatened to kill Lemen the previous November after a satanic rite performed in his mobile home.  The application states Lemen told the friend she “witnessed (Fryman) kill an owl during a satanic ritual in which he drained the blood on a sacrificial altar.  When Monica protested, he stated he could kill her, dismember her and paint the walls with her blood if she ever made him mad.  Monica told (the friend) that if anything ever happened to her John Fryman would be responsible.”  The search warrant application also stated that Fryman’s parents told police their son was a devil worshiper.

Despite this information, investigators continued to deny a link between Fryman’s apparent occult interests and the death of Monica Lemen.  “We’re not going to guess on motives.  There’s no evidence that any satanic ritual was involved in this homicide,” said Lt. William Fletcher, chief of the Cincinnati police homicide squad.  However, behind the denials to the press, investigators were taking seriously the apparent connections to the occult.  Officials in Indiana, where the severed legs were discovered, had been investigating occult activity in the area for the previous two years.  Reports of mutilated animals in fields, dead animals hung upside down in trees and pentagrams painted on road signs had been given by local conservation officers among others, according to Fayette County Sheriff George Zimmerman.  However, investigation into the incidents failed to make any connection to satanists.  “We’ve been doing some checking, but we haven’t been able to put our finger on anything,” said Zimmerman.  “We can’t find out where they’re having meetings.”  Additionally, investigators interviewed a parapsychologist and demonology researcher to see if any connections could be drawn between the severed legs and the items discovered in Fryman’s trailer.  Parapsychologist and witchcraft researcher Tim Patrie was skeptical that the trailer was home to “a dedicated satanist,” but rather the occupant probably had an interest in demonology.  “A lot of people claim to be devil worshippers, but they don’t know what they’re doing.  You’re not going to find a true satanic church in a trailer court,” said Patrie.  Patrie did say, however, that he believed a true coven of 13 satanists was operating in the area where the legs were discovered, adding that the satanists tend to practice their rituals in remote areas away from their homes and mark their territory with satanic symbols on road signs.            

Even as Fryman eluded authorities, a clearer picture was beginning to develop concerning the strange occupant of 124 Sammy Drive.  Neighbors at the Debbie Mobile Home Park described Fryman and his live-in girlfriend, Beverly Cox, as friendly and approachable, but hadn’t seen the pair for a week and had never noticed anything unusual at the location.  According to police, Fryman’s parents were divorced and the young man “floated around Cincinnati,” staying with one or the other parent.  “We think he attended Mount Healthy High School, but quit,” said Detective Roberts.  Reporters learned that Fryman had worked as an orderly at Cottingham Retirement Community in Sharonville, but walked off the job the previous November.  “He was always very attentive to residents’ needs,” said the executive director.  But Fryman also had a troubled past.  Until May 1986, he had resided at the Lebanon Correctional Facility where he served a five to fifteen year sentence for three counts of robbery.  He was paroled after just three years.  Lebanon visitation records show that Fryman was mostly visited by family members.  However, one other individual signed in five times to chat with the budding occultist.  That person was Monica Lemen.

Sources:

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton Daily News

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana)

The Brookville Democrat

Franklin County Historical Society

The devil’s trailer Part 2

Severed Legs

There could be no doubt that a sinister force had announced its presence that Valentine’s Day afternoon 1987.  The fact that it chose Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church to reveal itself was an indication it intended to mock a gathering place of life, joy and family with its offensive brand of gruesome handiwork.  The additional fact that it seemed to taunt the community by offering only the dismembered legs of the victim, making identification nearly impossible, was proof this evil desired to inflict maximum horror and anguish on the community for as long as possible.  State and local law enforcement wasted no time gathering available facts and casting a wide net in hopes of quickly capturing the elusive evil. 

Aside from the presence of the severed legs, the rest of the scene appeared mostly undisturbed.  The legs lay about thirty feet apart in a wooded area near an embankment off of U.S. 52, about two miles southeast of Brookville, Indiana.  Investigators revealed the legs were those of a white female and were severed about eight inches above the knee.  They were clad in blue jean pant legs, with the feet and lower part of the leg in red and white striped socks inside tan, suede cowboy boots size 8 ½.  “It is a pretty awful crime,” said Indiana State Police Cpl. Charlton R. Beard, “and right now, we don’t have lead one about it.”   

From the appearance of the scene and the lack of blood traces, investigators concluded the legs weren’t severed at the site but were transported there.  “It looks like someone just pulled off the road and threw them off an embankment.”  said Indiana State Police Detective Sgt. Philip E. Wietholter.  Authorities combed the area around Brookville, trying to uncover additional evidence or leads that might help them identify the victim.  Officers checked abandoned buildings and area motels.  They followed potential leads from local residents reporting suspicious looking cars in the area.  More than a dozen police officers fanned out across the countryside trying to track down clues, but an intensive search of the area along U.S. 52 between New Trenton and Brookville revealed no additional evidence.  

Plans were made to transfer the severed limbs from the state police post in Connersville, Indiana to the Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis for a pathology examination.  Without the rest of the body, identifying the victim was going to be a hard task.  “Unless someone identifies the shoes or socks, it’s going to be a difficult situation,” Weitholter said.  Hoping the examination could determine where the victim’s boots were purchased, Detective Weitholter thought the information might lead to an id of the victim.  However, another sad but promising development had already begun to take shape.  The desperate parents of missing loved ones had been contacting local law enforcement agencies with information.  Some parents had even reported that their missing daughters may have been wearing a similar color and style of boots at the time of their disappearance.

While the medical examination did provide additional details regarding the victim, it failed to uncover information that would readily point to an identification.  According to Sgt. Reginald Brewer of the ISP, the examination revealed that the white female was between 20 and 30 years old.  She was approximately 5 foot 5 inches and weighed around 170 pounds, give or take 20 pounds.  Brewer said pathologists could not determine the color of the woman’s hair, or how long the woman had been dead.  However, investigators believed the legs had been present at the site for less than 48 hours.  Authorities surmised a very sharp object, such as a knife or a saw, had been used in the dismemberment, because it produced a clean cut.  Sounding a bit pessimistic, Det. Weitholter added, “There was no evidence of scars or deformities that would have made it easier to identify.”  

The search for the body of the young woman continued on Tuesday, February 17.  An air search had been planned for that day but had to be called off due to snowfall in the area.  It was around this time, however, that investigators caught a break.  The family members of a missing Cincinnati woman were able to identify the severed legs as belonging to Monica Denise Lemen, 21, who had been missing since February 9.  Family members recognized the socks and were able to identify distinct markings on the boots.  “They recognized the stains on her boots, the size is right, and they even told us where the boots were bought.  We checked the store, and the boots had their code on them,” said Detective Weitholter.  Lemen’s father had reported the young woman missing on February 10, after she failed to show up for work the previous day and had not returned home that night.  The worried parents called around to friends during the night, but no one knew of her whereabouts.  

Monica Lemen had been employed as a waitress at Busken Bakery in downtown Cincinnati, and had shared an apartment on First Ave. with her boyfriend, Dennis Whitt, who aided in the identification of the severed legs.  She had been a student at Cincinnati Technical College where she took management courses.  Co-workers at the bakery described her as quiet and dependable, and someone who aspired to make something more of herself.  A search of Dennis and Monica’s Price Hill apartment was conducted, but investigators discovered no evidence of foul play.  Dennis Whitt was never considered a suspect in Monica’s disappearance and apparent homicide.  However, investigators did focus on one person of interest in fairly short order.  According to Monica’s mother and friends, the young woman entertained an interest in the occult, and this interest had brought Monica into the orbit of a very dark character. 

Sources:

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton Daily News

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana)

The Brookville Democrat

Franklin County Historical Society

The devil’s trailer Part 1

A gruesome discovery

The Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church congregation was formed in 1806, not long after the Treaty of Greenville opened an area in the southeast of what would become the State of Indiana for settlement by European pioneers.  Lacking a permanent place of worship, the early residents of Franklin County would often meet in each other’s log cabins for services.  For five years the church community carried on like this, delaying the building of a permanent home for their church.  That is until 1811 when a not-so-subtle message was received by Little Cedar Grove’s dawdling congregants in the form of an earthquake that rocked the midwest.  According to a witness, the Rev. Allen Wiley, “The people ran to and fro, called for prayer meeting, exhorted each other to good deeds and repented of their sins as if Judgement Day was at hand.  Then they met in solemn conclave with the Almighty that if He would send no more earthquakes, they would build Him a church.”  So in short order they purchased land in Brookville Township, hired a carpenter and a mason, and set about building a sturdy little church made of brick, which has warded off comparable earthquakes ever since.  

The Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church held its inaugural meeting August 1, 1812.  The interior of the building contained a balcony accessible by two staircases.  A raised pulpit stood near the rear wall with a pastor’s bench behind it.  Wood pews faced the pulpit, and a charcoal pit in front of the pulpit was added in 1818 to heat the building.  It is not known if the congregants denied themselves heat for the first six years of the church’s existence as punishment for their procrastination, or if the church’s treasury simply lacked the funds for costly capital improvements like charcoal pits.  Additionally, at the northwest end of the property, a cemetery contained the graves of the original members of the congregation.  There a tombstone marked the final resting place of Elizabeth Tyner, who as the wife of the church’s first pastor, William Tyner, departed this life in 1810.  

On February 14, 1987, the Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church was the site of a wedding.  Acquired by the Brookville Historical Society in 1910, and having undergone a number of repairs and renovations over the years, by 1987 the church had not been home to a permanent congregation for nearly a century, but instead had been used for special events.  On this Valentine’s Day Saturday, while the wedding party gathered inside the church, the children, presumably bored with the formality, wandered off to explore the grounds of the church and wooded area nearby.  Around 1:00 pm, while playing in the woods behind the church, the children made a gruesome discovery.  Among the snowy leaves and debris lay a pair of severed human legs.  Panicked, frightened and running to and fro, the frantic children hurried to alert the adults who followed them to the scene.  

In 1987, a destructive earthquake, while potentially devastating, would be an event wholly comprehensible to Cedar Grove residents.  Few would attribute such an event to their God expressing His anger over their lack of devotion.  Most would be able to maintain their composure and ride out the event.  However, very little offered by the modern era could prepare them for the evil that had been dropped into their midst.  No amount of reason or scientific clarity derived in the intervening 150 years since pioneers first settled the area could explain the savagery that lay in the woods behind the Little Cedar Grove Baptist Church.  The shocking sight of the severed legs overwhelmed the mind with dread and sorrow, as if Judgement Day was at hand.

Sources:

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dayton Daily News

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana)

The Brookville Democrat

Franklin County Historical Society

Does Delphi probable cause rule out conspiracy?

According to information contained in the probable cause affidavit released Tuesday, it seems likely accused Delphi killer Richard M. Allen intended to commit murder when he went to the Monon High Bridge on February 13, 2017.  If he parked his car at a place and in a manner that would make it difficult to conclusively identify, if he carried a gun and dressed in a manner that disguised his appearance, as seems to be the case, then he almost certainly went to the bridge intending to kill.  He wasn’t just standing on the bridge staring at the fish when the urge to murder came over him.  Moreover, if the probable cause affidavit is accurate, then he displayed little interest in other females who were on the trails that day.  Of course, it could just be that his plan was to wait and see if any females crossed the bridge.  Maybe that was the necessary precondition to set his plan into motion.  Additionally, it seems likely that he intended to carry out the assault in the area of the bridge.  Why wait until his victims crossed the bridge to try to force them at gunpoint through the woods, across the creek, out to the road and back to his car?  If Richard M. Allen is the killer, which a fair amount of compelling evidence would seem to suggest, then he knew he was going to kill before he went there, and he may have even known who his victims would be.

If the evidence contained in the probable cause affidavit is correct, then Richard M. Allen spent a great deal of time at the scene of the crime.  By his own admission, he did not leave the bridge area until 3:30 p.m.  Also, a witness saw a man walking along County Road 300 North “at approximately 3:57 p.m.” wearing “muddy and bloody” clothes matching the description of the clothes Richard M. Allen admits to wearing.  This means he probably spent a better part of an hour at the crime scene.  If true, this detail would be consistent with statements made by former Carroll County Prosecutor Robert Ives who described the crime scene as “odd” and noted the presence of at least three “signatures.”  “It was not your normal ‘a person was killed here’ crime scene, that’s probably all I can say about it,” Ives said.  These details would appear to indicate that Allen was engaging in behavior that went beyond the act of murder.  Indeed, the Ron Logan search warrant makes reference to staging the scene.  According to WISH-TV, “The document says authorities also found that two articles of clothing from one of the girls ‘…was missing from the crime scene while the rest of their clothing was recovered. It also appeared the girls’ bodies were moved and staged….Based upon my training and experience it is common for perpetrators of this type of crime to take a ‘souvenir’ or, in some fashion, memorialize the crime scene.’”

Clearly, the perpetrator of this crime had a plan, something he had fantasized about for some time.  Richard M. Allen’s purported behavior at the bridge that day appears consistent with someone who had bloody intentions and could very likely have had a clear target in mind.  But why that time, that place and those two innocent children of Delphi.  Could an overweight, balding, boastful, depraved exploiter of young girls have tipped off Richard Allen, or an anonymous profile that turned out to be Allen?  As Alice of The Prosecutors podcast recently theorized, “Kegan could have just been bragging because he’s stupid…It could potentially be, taking it out of the coincidence world, out of the crazy conspiracy world, where they’re all working together behind the scenes, Kegan could have just been stupid and posted a snapshot of his conversation and been like, ‘I got two girls coming to meet me.’  He was never going to go because he is a sad guy who never carries out what he’s going to do.  But someone saw that and was like, ‘That’s an opportunity.  I’m gonna do this.’” 

While it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that Kline’s messaging with Libby, the Marathon Gas Station search, the waiting in a red vehicle admission and the Wabash River search were all just coincidences and lies, Alice’s theory seems entirely reasonable as a possible explanation of these connections.  However, I wouldn’t be too quick to rule out the possibility of “they’re all working together behind the scenes.”  While there may not have been a highly coordinated diabolical plan in operation here, as I’ve written about in previous blog posts, some level of communication or possible coordination is not without precedent in this part of Indiana. 

A June 17, 2022 press release from the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana titled Two Predators Sentenced to Federal Prison for Sexually Exploiting Four Children They met on Social Media Platforms reads:

“INDIANAPOLIS – Thomas James Israel, 46, of Ft. Wayne, and Max Schafer, 31, of Brownsburg, were each sentenced to federal prison for their role in exploiting four children between October 2019 and August 2020. One of the victims was exploited by both Israel and Schafer during separate incidents.   Israel previously pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of child sexual abuse material. On November 15, 2021, Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt sentenced Israel to twenty-five years in federal prison. Late yesterday, Schafer pleaded guilty to receipt of visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child sexual abuse material. District Judge James R. Sweeney II sentenced Schafer to over fourteen years (175 months) in federal prison.

“According to court documents, between April 2020 and June 2020, Israel met his first minor victim, who was 14, using online applications such as Omegle and Meetme. Using Snapchat and Kik, Israel persuaded this victim to meet with him in person, then forced the victim into sadomasochistic sexual abuse, including forceful oral sex and assault. Israel recorded the sexual abuse on his mobile phone and later sent the video to the victim.

“Israel met a second minor victim using Snapchat and persuaded the victim to send him explicit videos and photos of herself. When this victim was between 14 and 16 years old, she sent her minor boyfriend sexually explicit images and videos of herself. Without her consent, the boyfriend disseminated the images and videos over the internet. Israel downloaded those images and videos onto his online storage account and viewed them for a sexual purpose. 

“Israel met his third minor victim, who was between 14 and 16 years’ old, over Omegle. Knowing that the victim suffered from mental health issues, Israel induced her to produce child sex abuse material, and to sell the images and videos to others online. Israel took a percentage of the fees and paid the victim by sending her gift cards from Victoria’s Secret.

“According to court documents, Schafer also met Israel’s first minor victim using Omegle. Knowing that the minor victim was only fourteen years old, Schafer met and engaged in sexually explicit conduct with the victim. Schafer also persuaded the victim to send him the video that Israel produced, depicting Israel’s violent sexual abuse of the child.”

As this case and many others show, these predators are highly networked.  While it may be rare for one to commit murder, it is not at all rare for them to coordinate and share victims, whether it be for the purposes of sharing images or in person sexual assault.  As one former investigator put it, when it comes to this type of criminal behavior, “There are no coincidences.”

Two currents in Delphi investigation yet to merge

Two Indiana waterways, Deer Creek and the Wabash River, merge at a location southwest of downtown Delphi.  Each identifies a separate current of information known to the public about the police investigation into the murders of Abigail Williams and Liberty German of Delphi.  The Wabash flows through Peru within blocks of the home where Kegan Kline lived at the time of the murders.  Deer Creek is part of the crime scene, of course, and flows beneath the Monon High Bridge where, authorities contend, Richard Allen pursued and confronted the girls back in February of 2017.  Deer Creek empties into the Wabash River at Delphi, but will the two currents of the investigation ever merge?

According to WISH-TV, Richard Allen “told a state conservation officer he was in the area on the day of the killings, but his report may have been considered unfounded, a police source tells I-Team 8.

“Allen, a 50-year-old resident of Delphi, went to the conservation officer right after the teens’ murders on Feb. 13, 2017, and said he was on the Monon High Bridge that afternoon but didn’t see the two girls, the source says.

“Williams and German were dropped off near the bridge on the day of the murders. Their bodies were found the next day.

“Allen’s statement was forgotten until recently when Indiana State Police became frustrated with the status of the Delphi investigation and asked a group of investigators to look over files related to the case.

“Investigators believe Allen is the man on the bridge in the cellphone video and in sketches released by police, the source tells I-Team 8.”

This new revelation would seem to indicate that investigators stumbled upon the Richard Allen lead independent of any information they received from Kegan Kline.  Taken on its own without additional context, the information appears to indicate that Richard Allen acted alone.

However, the WISH-TV reporting goes on to verify another bit of speculative info related to the Wabash River branch of the investigation.

“The police source also confirms that the recent five-week state police search of the Wabash River in Peru was connected to the Delphi investigation.

“It was initiated after Kegan Kline told police they would find a cell phone and weapon in the river, the source tells I-Team 8.

“Kline, 28, a figure linked to the Delphi murders who has not been charged in the case, revealed that information while being questioned about the deaths of Libby and Abby.

“That evidence was never found and Kline is known for lying to investigators.”

While it is certainly possible that the Wabash River/Kegan Kline current of the investigation is entirely bogus, and Kline is just a big fat lying piece of excrement who has been misleading investigators for months, why then would we continue to see Kline’s trial postponed due to his ongoing negotiations with prosecutors?  Could it be that the current negotiations are related only to his child-porn-related charges?  

Perhaps, but there is another possibility which may hold the key to whether these two investigative streams will ever merge.  Regarding the sealing of the probable cause affidavit, Dr. Jody Maderia of the IU School of Law in Bloomington told WISH-TV, “There may be other individuals that they are seeking to apprehend and there could be details they don’t want getting out in the public to control the quality of that investigation.” 

Additionally, Allen was charged with what is commonly referred to as “felony murder,” indicating that he could be charged with other felony crimes, or he could have participated in the commission of a felony during which someone else committed the murders.  While bits of information emerge that on their own seem to point to Allen’s sole culpability, a wider context still allows for the possibility that Kegan Kline may somehow be involved.  Only when more of the pieces are in place will we learn if the two investigative currents merge like Deer Creek into the Wabash River, or diverge into a Kegan Kline initiated morass of bullshit and lies.

Predator in the park Part 6

The day before Kenneth Munson was scheduled to go on trial on June 17, 2003, prosecutors met to discuss a potential plea agreement.  Munson, who had already admitted involvement in the crime, had waived his request for a speedy trial and began working with prosecutors on a deal.  In the meantime, Hugh Munson, who Joseph McCormick identified as the driver of the dark blue or black Camaro tied to Peggy Sue’s kidnapping and slaying, was released by investigators after he passed a polygraph examination.  “We thought there wasn’t enough evidence to keep him,” said Hancock County Sheriff Nick Gulling.  “At this point, we don’t feel that witness testimony was credible.”  

As just a simple country blogger here with no legal expertise, I’m baffled as to why the sheriff would publicly undermine the credibility of potential witnesses that could be called upon to aid in the prosecution of someone for the murder of Peggy Sue Altes.  They’ve already made a deal with McCormick for his testimony.  Even if Gulling thought McCormick’s story lacked credibility, why wouldn’t he just keep his mouth shut about it?  Why is he providing ammunition for a possible defense and sewing seeds of doubt for a future jury to chew on?  And, if McCormick’s story lacked credibility, why then did prosecutors give him such a sweet deal, especially when they had him dead to rights with the DNA?

Remarkably, as prosecutors prepared for trial, Joseph Mark McCormick was serving the final months of his sentence for child molestation.  Due to good behavior, McCormick only had to serve three years of his six year sentence, and he had already been given time served for his pretrial stretch in the Hancock County Jail.  That meant, at the time of his sentencing, he had only a little over a year left to serve.  The man whose DNA proved he raped an 11-year-old girl, along with his own testimony tying him to a kidnapping and a murder, served a mere three years in prison.   

On August 21, 2003, Kenneth Wayne Munson testified at a bond hearing for William T. Beever.  Beever’s attorney, Larry Amick, confronted Munson with an array of statements and testimony Munson had given to investigators and the courts over the years.  Munson had variously given statements omitting mention of William Beever and testimony identifying Beever as the assailant of Peggy Sue.  Munson also testified in McCormick’s bond hearing that his brother, Hugh Munson, was involved in the crime, but at this bond hearing denied his brother’s involvement.  Despite Munson’s conflicting testimonies, Joseph McCormick’s testimony corroborated the account that William Beever delivered Peggy Sue’s fatal stab wounds, and that Hugh Munson was involved with the crime, whether or not he was present at the time of the murder.  Ken Munson’s story that Beever committed the murder is cited also by Judge Hamilton in his decision freeing Jerry Watkins.  This is not a new version of events, invented to garner a plea deal, but one that had been mostly consistent over the years, and McCormick’s testimony confirmed it.       

On Thursday, September 18, 2003, Kenneth Wayne Munson agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal confinement resulting in serious bodily injury of a child.  Although he faced a potential 20 year sentence, Munson got six years.  With good behavior and time served, he would be out in as little as three years.  This is a man who admitted in court to pushing Peggy Sue to the ground and stabbing her.  But, of course, Hancock County prosecutors were playing the long game, right?  They were strategically building a case against William Beever, the man who actually delivered the fatal stab wounds, and they were going to use the testimony of McCormick and Munson to secure that conviction.  

In February of 2004, prosecutors sought a delay in the trial of William Beever because new evidence had surfaced strengthening their contention that William Beever delivered the fatal stab wounds that lead to the death of Peggy Sue Altes.  “We had some things that came out of statements (from Beever’s defense),” Hancock County Prosecutor Larry Gossett told the Daily Reporter.  “You think a case this old would be done, but new things keep coming up.”  At the time, this seemed like a very positive development.  The prosecution had two witnesses who confessed to their own involvement in the crime, and were serving prison sentences, ready to testify to Beever’s participation.  Now they had this new information.  After twenty years, the table was set to finally convict the actual perpetrator for the brutal murder of Peggy Sue Altes.  Next to the scarcity of evidence and lack of reliable witness testimony in the Jerry Watkins case, this prosecution must have seemed bullet proof. 

In April of 2004, a week before the trial of William T. Beever was scheduled to begin, the Hancock County Prosecutor Larry Gossett moved to drop the charges.  Prosecutors cited the need for more time to investigate.  Additionally, prosecutors were up against an April 28 deadline to bring the case to trial or the charges would be permanently dismissed.  The move to drop charges now bought them another year to investigate and refile at a later date.  Of course, prosecutors would never bring William Beever to trial for his involvement in the slaying of Peggy Sue Altes.  He would, however, be convicted for raping an 11-year-old Marion County boy and be sentenced to a 70 year prison term where he would eventually die while incarcerated.  Reportedly, Beever had threatened to kill the boy if he ever told.  But the boy, knowing Beever was securely behind bars in the Altes case, gathered up the courage to tell his story.  In the end, this brave boy did what prosecutors in Hancock County were either incapable or unwilling to do.  His courage put a very dangerous man behind bars and brought about a small measure of justice for Peggy Sue and her family over Peggy Sue’s murder.

On Veterans Day, November 12, 1984, a little girl had the day off school and desired only to spend it playing with friends.  She went to Porter Park and played with some young boys she met there.  Most likely, they talked about school and kids they each knew and teachers they disliked.  They flew high on the swings, watching their feet stretch towards the sky.  No doubt, they occasionally released their grip on the chain and felt themselves float free of their seat on the swing.  There Margaret “Peggy Sue” Altes let go and drifted weightless in the air above Porter Park, laughing, gleefully shrieking, and hovering over a bare patch in the grass where she would eventually, in due time, come to land.

“There are days when it is all I can do to hold it all together,” Myrlene Altes told the Daily Reporter in November of 2004.  “You don’t forget a child or something like this.  They say that God knows what happened.  They will have to stand before God and take his punishment.”

Sources:

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana)

Watkins v. Miller, Southern District of Indiana (2000)

Nearly two weeks separates search of Delphi suspect’s home and arrest

According to Fox59, “50-year-old Richard Allen was arrested and taken into custody at the Indiana State Police’s post in West Lafayette on Wednesday, October 26. He was formally charged with two counts of murder two days later on October 28.”

On Monday night, HLN’s Barbara MacDonald reported that Delphi suspect Richard Matthew Allen’s home and property was searched by investigators on Thursday, October 13.  

What prompted investigators to knock on Richard Allen’s door that mid-October day, and can the nearly two week gap between the search and his arrest shed any light on how Allen ended up on their radar?  If the account MacDonald gleaned from Allen’s neighbors is accurate, it would appear that Richard Allen may have only become a suspect that morning, and investigators, most likely, had not yet acquired much evidence against him prior to arriving at his home that day.  

MacDonald reported neighbors “noticed a lot of activity outside his house, a lot of cars that appeared to them to be unmarked law enforcement vehicles, a lot of men not in law enforcement uniforms, but in suits and khaki pants, all arriving at the house just before noon.  They asked Richard and his wife to exit the home and to remain outside of the home throughout the day.  They weren’t allowed back into the home until around 11:00 p.m. that night.  During that time, Richard stood outside.  His wife sat in a van.  He stood outside that van for several hours.  One of the photos shows that, that we’ve exclusively obtained.  Another photo shows him sitting in the van with his wife, with the passenger door open for another several hours.  At some point, as it was starting to get dark out, these neighbors noticed that the Carroll County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Liggett arrived.  He had a piece of paper with him.  He showed it to Richard Allen.  At that point a tow truck arrived and started taking the car away…one that he (Allen) routinely used.  They began a search inside the house and also in the yard using some sort of a device, perhaps like a metal detector or something like that, to search a flower bed and an area around a shed.  They did dig around the shed and some small areas.  They took a lot of photos in the shed….Officers came out of the house carrying several bundles of cloth, dark cloth, perhaps clothing, a Macy’s shopping bag, a shoe box, and a stack of books.  At this point we don’t know what any of that means for the investigation.”  

If the above account is accurate, and investigators are removing the Allen’s from their home while a search warrant is being obtained, it would seem likely that Richard Allen only became a suspect that very morning.  Why would they not have arrived there with a warrant in hand unless this was a spontaneous event?  Also, if they’d had conclusive evidence pointing to Allen, why would they not have arrested him the day of the search?  Whatever evidence or information led to his arrest, it likely was obtained during the search and required an additional thirteen days of examination before authorities felt confident enough to arrest Allen.

It seems doubtful that DNA led to Richard Matthew Allen.  If this was the case, then they probably would have arrived at his home with a search warrant and possibly an arrest warrant in hand.  It seems more likely that some tip or cyber discovery resulted in the identification or location of his home.  While there is yet no known linkage between Allen and Kegan Kline, does anyone honestly believe that this guy was not a consumer of online pornography?  If the killings were the realization of some fantasy, like many experts speculate, then it would be almost a cosmic certainty that the suspect Richard Allen was immersed in a world of online child sexual abuse material.  And if that’s true, could Richard Allen, or his online profile, have ended up in the orbit of Kegan Kline?  Was Richard Allen just a profile or an anonymous acquaintance of Kegan Kline’s before he became known by name to authorities on October 13?

Whatever prompted investigators to rush to the suspect’s home on October 13, it would be the granddaddy of all coincidences if one of the victims was in social media communication with a child predator in the morning and then was pursued and ultimately murdered by another child predator in an unrelated incident that afternoon.  It is heartening to see law enforcement continuing to investigate until they are certain that all involved are apprehended and justice can prevail for Libby, Abby, and their families.

Predator in the park Part 5

With a murder trial looming, Joseph Mark McCormick in March of 2003 secured an extraordinary deal with prosecutors in the Peggy Sue Altes murder case.  Agreeing to plead guilty to child molesting, McCormick saw the murder charges against him dropped in exchange for his cooperation and testimony against others involved in the crime.  The man whose DNA connected him to the crime would not only not face trial for murder, but was sentenced to a mere six years in prison followed by 14 years of probation.  Surely the proffer of such a sweetheart deal to the one man tied to the crime by physical evidence must have been made with the full confidence that his testimony would secure convictions against those responsible for the murder.  How could officials let a man off with only six years for raping an eleven year old girl unless they were absolutely certain that the worst monster of all was going to spend the rest of his life behind bars?

Days after McCormick’s plea, additional men were arrested for the murder of Peggy Sue Altes.  As a result of McCormick’s cooperation, the brothers Hugh Perry Munson, 44, and Kenneth Wayne Munson, 41, along with William L. Beever, 46, were charged March 14, 2004, with murder, felony murder and conspiracy to commit murder.  Kenneth Munson, who had been cooperating with investigators, was already being held in Marion County on a theft charge.  Hugh Munson, who was living in Florida at the time, waived extradition and was transferred to Hancock County.  William Beever was a resident of Danville, Indiana.  These three individuals were not unfamiliar to Hancock County investigators.  According to reporting by Paul Bird of the Indianapolis Star, these men were on investigators’ radar back in 1984 as their names appeared in police notes from the time.  Failure by prosecutors to disclose investigator’s suspicions of these individuals to Jerry Watkins’ defense attorneys was one of the reasons his conviction was overturned.  According to U.S. District Judge David Hamilton’s decision, “The notes on the Munsons and Beevers reflect a confusing and sordid account of drug use, knives, violence, and adult men having sex with underage girls.”  

Even as the three suspects sat in jail charged with murder, Hancock County Sheriff Nick Gulling continued to downplay how much information they had on these men at the time of the original investigation.  “We had pieces of evidence from several different sources but no real link between many of the pieces,” Gulling told the Greenfield Daily Reporter.  Gulling discounted the story of the 7-year-old boy at Porter Park who saw Peggy Sue forced into a black or dark blue Camaro at about 2:30 the afternoon she disappeared.  “The description of the car that the 7-year-old witness gave us didn’t fit a vehicle that anyone knew anything about at the time, and the description of the man with whom she was seen didn’t sound like any of the guys we were being told about.”  As for William Beever, Hugh Munson and Kenneth Munson, Gulling dismissed their significance as suspects.  “None of them had any motive.  They were just people that were mentioned who were in the park or lived in the neighborhood.”

That last quote bears repeating:  “None of them had any motive.  They were just people that were mentioned who were in the park or lived in the neighborhood.”  Again, investigator’s notes on these three men reflected “a confusing and sordid account of drug use, knives, violence, and adult men having sex with underage girls.”  I realize I’m Monday morning quarterbacking here, but I fail to see how Jerry Watkins had a stronger motive than these three losers.  Peggy Sue was raped.  How is the cover up of that crime not as strong a motive as the Jerry Watkins’ molestation motive?   Yes, Jerry Watkins could be tied directly to Peggy Sue.  But he could also be excluded as her rapist because his blood type did not match that of her attacker. Also he passed a polygraph and had a solid alibi.   So, if it’s true that these men were known around the neighborhood, known to have frequented Porter Park, and known to have sex with underage girls, then why wouldn’t these guys rank near the top of the list of suspects?  How does the word of witnesses and neighborhood residents count for less than a jailhouse snitch? 

Joseph Mark McCormick testified at a bond hearing for the three accused men on Wednesday, June 4, 2003.  His version of events matched what he’d told police and remained consistent under questioning from defense attorneys.  According to McCormick, he began the day by driving a friend to work and then visited an old girlfriend’s house to use drugs.  “We ran out of dope there, and I knew I had some at home, so I drove back,” McCormick told the court.  When he arrived home, there was a light blue van parked near his house.  McCormick testified that Kenneth Munson and William Beever were inside the van with Peggy Sue.  “They said the van wouldn’t run and wanted to use my phone to get somebody over there that could get it running.”  McCormick told the court the three men had sex with Peggy Sue at his home.  They then made plans to purchase more beer and “go out to the country to party when we could get the van running.”  After repairs were made, McCormick drove the van, which belonged to Kenneth Munson, and followed another car around the eastside of Indianapolis and into Hancock County.  “It was a black or dark blue Camaro or Firebird.  I really can’t remember, but I followed it all around the area,” McCormick testified.  According to McCormick, in addition to himself, the occupants of the van included Peggy Sue, Kenneth Munson, and the brothers William and Kenneth Beever.  At some point, the dark blue or black car disappeared and Kenneth Munson directed McCormick to a location along Jacobi Road in Hancock County.  “It was after we got to the scene that Kenny told me that they were going to kill Peggy,” McCormick told the court.  “They told me they were going to kill her because she had sex with us and was getting ready to go to court to talk about having sex with some other guy.”  McCormick testified that the dark blue or black car driven by Hugh Munson arrived at the scene just before Peggy Sue was stabbed, first by Kenneth Munson, then by William Beever.      

In many respects, the story told by Joseph McCormick matches the one told by Kenneth Munson.  Both accounts mention the dark Camaro, which is corroborated by the 7-year-old Porter Park witness.  Both accounts mention the van and driving around the eastside of Indianapolis before ending up in Hancock County.  McCormick talks about buying more beer and Munson says they went to the liquor store.  It’s hardly a surprise that Munson’s story leaves out the part where he participates in the rape and later the stabbing of Peggy Sue.  However, Munson does implicate someone other than McCormick as the individual who delivered the fatal knife wounds.  According to Judge Hamilton’s decision in the Jerry Watkins appeal, Ken Munson points the finger at William Beever as the one who fatally stabbed Peggy Sue.  While Munson also gave contradictory accounts to the police, McCormick’s testimony corroborates Munson’s assertion that William Beever was the individual who committed the fatal stabbing.

This testimony is occurring nearly 20 years after the crime.  Details are bound to become fuzzy and less relevant ones fade away altogether.  It is not surprising that McCormick and Munson’s stories don’t cleanly align, and it’s even less surprising that Munson tries to downplay his culpability.  But each of Munson’s retellings reveals more of his involvement and brings his story closer to the actual events of that day in 1984.  Joseph McCormick’s testimony largely matches Munson’s, but places “Kenny” right at the center of events.  It won’t be long, however, before Kenneth Munson puts himself there as well.

Sources:

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana)

Watkins v. Miller, Southern District of Indiana (2000)

Predator in the park Part 4

With a confidential informant in sheriff’s custody revealing details of what happened on November 12, 1984, and a suspect, Joseph Mark McCormick, whose DNA implicated him in the rape and murder of Peggy Sue Altes, investigators finally began to let go of the idea that Jerry Watkins was in any way involved in the killing.  However, from the benefit of hindsight, one has to wonder if the damage was already done.  With Hancock County authorities so sure that Jerry Watkins was the guy, and their failure to pursue anyone else during the fourteen years Watkins sat in prison, how could investigators now be perceived as credible as they began to turn their attention to other suspects?  

According to the confidential informant, several men, including himself and McCormick, were participants in the crime.  After Peggy Sue was kidnapped from Porter Park, she was transferred from a car to a van that was driven by McCormick.  After driving around, the van ends up in the Hancock County field where the murder took place and where Peggy Sue’s body would eventually be discovered.  Initially the informant attempted to distance himself from the worst aspects of the crime.  “(The informant) at first said that he and another man were dropped off at a culvert near the scene but later said he actually went there and saw what happened.  He still has nightmares about it,” Captain Jim Bradbury testified at a bond hearing. 

Naturally, McCormick’s defense attorney John Davis highlighted the confusing and constantly shifting narrative of events offered by investigators.  “I am just trying to figure out what they say happened,” Davis said, playing the simple country lawyer for reporters.  “Their informant has told seven different stories of what happened….I’m just trying to make some sense of it all.”  Even as investigators were finally starting to put the puzzle together, it was clear they were going to face an uphill battle after they’d previously worked tirelessly to ignore the truth for so long. 

At McCormick’s bond hearing in late September of 2001, another member of the murderous crew responsible for the brutal slaying of Peggy Sue Altes emerged from the shadows when former confidential informant Kenneth Wayne Munson took the stand.  Munson testified that on the afternoon of November 12, 1984, he visited the home of a friend on the southeast side of Indianapolis.  After smoking some marijuana, he, the friend and several other men went to a local liquor store in a van driven by Joseph McCormick.  However, the men did not purchase any alcohol, but drove to nearby Porter Park instead.  There they met with another group of people who had already grabbed Peggy Sue and were holding her in a Camaro.  “They had her in the back seat of their car and they pulled the car up to the side of the van and shoved her from the car into the van,” Munson testified.  Once in the van, Peggy Sue was bound with cloth and sat on a milk crate between the front seats.  Munson sat in the back on the floor of the van as McCormick drove to a park on Prospect Street.  Most likely, the park Munson referred to is Paul Ruster Park at 11300 Prospect Street, near the Marion County/Hancock County line.  According to Munson’s testimony, it was at this park where McCormick raped the girl.  “I pleaded for the girl.  I tried to get him to stop but (another man) stuck a gun in my face and told me to shut up and don’t cause no trouble….I saw your client rape that baby,” an emotional Munson told defense attorney John Davis.  The man who threatened Munson with a gun was the friend Munson visited that afternoon.  Munson testified that he was bound with duct tape.  The van continued to the Hancock County field where Munson was able to free himself from the duct tape as McCormick again raped Peggy Sue and another man attempted to.  According to Munson’s testimony, McCormick then held the girl while another man stabbed Peggy Sue.  Munson testified that as many as five men were in the field when the crime occurred and that McCormick threatened him after the crime.  “Joe wanted to shoot me.  I ran and hid for two days.”     

Investigators believed Munson’s story because he was able to provide a description of the vehicles and weapons used in the commision of the crime.  Additionally, a year earlier, Munson was able to retrace the route taken by the abductors and lead investigators to the location of the crime scene.  “He was pretty shaken up about being there,” Indianapolis Police Department Lt. Louis Christ testified at the hearing.  “There was a small deer at the corner of Jacobi Road and the lane when we drove up that day and (Munson) started to tear up.  We stood there for a while and he just cried.  He wasn’t saying much that day.”

There seems to be little doubt that Ken Munson was a witness to the horrible events of that day back in 1984.  Even if he fudged a few facts in an attempt to limit his culpability in the crime, he clearly knew things only a participant would know, and the DNA evidence against McCormick backed up his story.  Despite his career as a criminal, Ken Munson seemed genuinely affected and remorseful over the events of that day, and willingly gave his testimony even though he surely knew that he was implicating himself in serious criminality that would land him back in prison.  However, as the murder trial of Joseph Mark McCormick approached, he too would have a few things to say about the bloody crime and the vicious men involved, things that would implicate others and reveal Ken Munson to be less the unfortunate witness and more the willing participant.

Sources:

The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis News

The Daily Reporter (Greenfield, Indiana)

Watkins v. Miller, Southern District of Indiana (2000)